Game thread coming later, but no big one because of this. -Mike
WASHINGTON -- It was one of the early days of training camp, and Mike James looked great. He had shed 25 pounds and was running around the Virginia Commonwealth gym like he was a new player. Flip Saunders proclaimed him one of the surprises of training camp, joking that James was allowed to keep his shirt off because he reported to camp in excellent shape.
Now, halfway through the regular season, James sits in his locker, shoulders slumped to the ground. He's appeared in one game all season, and that was against the Indiana Pacers in a blowout loss in early November. The team's starting point guard and third-string point guard have been suspended, and a journeyman formerly of the Italian League is the team's backup point guard. The frustration was palpable on James' face.
"This is the toughest situation of my career," James says. "I've never been treated like this."
James is upset that he hasn't even received a chance to play. He figured that he would get his chance after an impressive training camp, but that chance hasn't come. Now, he's frustrated and he says he hasn't been given an explanation.
"I was one of the best guards in training camp," James says, later adding that "[the Wizards] haven't given me a reason why I don't play."
James is trying to stay positive, saying several times that he's still working hard (first to the gym, last to leave) and that adversity only makes him stronger. He's used to this kind of treatment, so he'll keep pushing on until he gets his chance. But he also admitted he's thought of what it would be like if he was elsewhere.
"At the end of the day, I've been mocked a lot in my career. This ain't the first time I've been mocked. But, everyone that's mocked me, at some point, they've respected me."